Sadly, Pakistan has been ranked as the sixth most dangerous and unsafe country for women and seventh in sexual violence, including domestic violence. That, despite the promulgation of The Domestic violence (Prevention & Protection) Act 2013, which was enacted by the provincial Sindh Government in 2013 to protect women, children and other vulnerable victims from the menace of domestic violence. The Sindh Government has utterly failed to implement the “Act” in its true spirit. It is a matter of record that the Sindh Government has neither appointed “protection officers” nor established the “protection committees,” mandatory obligations in terms of Section 17 of the aforesaid Act to protect the victims from domestic violence.
The Domestic violence (Prevention & Protection) Act 2013 was enacted to protect the weakest class of society; those who cannot even dare discuss the issues that they are facing. Considering that, the legislatures intended to insert Section 3 in the aforesaid Act, which states, “This Act and the contents thereof receive wide publicity through electronic and print media in Urdu and local languages,” and “the Government officers, the police and members of the judicial services are given periodic sensitisation and awareness training on the issues addressed by this Act.”
Domestic violence is the root cause of all the other forms of violence against women
Nonetheless, the Sindh Government, despite being under such strict obligation(s), failed to comply with the mandatory provisions of Section 3 of the Act.
Notably, the above-mentioned legislation to prevent domestic violence is in the field since 2013, which remains inactive and aimless. Resultantly, it is unceasingly infringing upon the guaranteed rights of women to enjoy the feel of protection of the law in terms of Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
It is obligatory upon the Sindh Government, in terms of Section 3 of The Domestic violence (Prevention & Protection) Act 2013, to instantly launch an effective campaign, through the concerned senior police officials, Assistant Commissioners, local NGOs and those on the municipal levels, for the awareness of its content and objectives. The awareness campaign must also make it known to the victims or possible victims of domestic violence, the easy and inexpensive procedures to file a case of domestic violence in the court of the concerned magistrate in terms of Section 7 of the Act, which states, “An aggrieved person or other person authorised by the aggrieved person in on his behalf or informer may present a petition to the Court of concerned jurisdiction, the Court shall fix the first date of hearing, which shall not exceed seven days from the date of the receipt of the petition by the court.”
In my humble view, domestic violence is the root cause of all the other forms of violence against women, which needs the urgent attention of the Sindh Government. It is worth mentioning that as per the report submitted in the Honourable Sindh High Court in CP No 1204/15, by the District and Session Judge Larkana and Sukkur, the number of cases involving violence against women, such as abduction for forcible marriage, murder on the allegation of “Karo-Kari,” within a short span, i.e from 01.10.2013 to 21.10.2015, was found to be 332, whereas more than two thousand petitions were filed by women in Circuit Bench Larkana, from 2015 till date, to seek protection. Even then, domestic violence is surely not on the priority list of the Sindh Government. The reports compiled by the international NGOs indicates that there has been a 20 to 25 per cent increase in the cases of violence against women reported every year. A periodical report, titled, “Tracking Crimes against People – A Numeric Tale of Human (In) Security,” released by a rights group, Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO), revealed a 200 per cent increase in cases of violence against women in Pakistan in the past three months.
It is always the undeniable duty of the government to ensure the protection of its citizens. It needs to uphold the status of men and women as equal in the eyes of law and in terms of Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which states,
“All citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of law & that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex & nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provisions for the protection of women and children.”
The writer is an advocate of the High Courts of Pakistan